The 2015 season was not kind to the Baltimore Ravens. A 5-11 finish was a huge disappointment for a team looking to return to the postseason. Fans and players alike are hoping that 2016 will be a much more successful campaign.
Here are the top five reasons why it will be:
- Injuries: Yes, the entire Ravens fan base is knocking on wood as they read this. Injuries decimated the roster from the bottom up. Terrell Suggs, Joe Flacco, and Steve Smith are just a few examples of big-time players calling it a season due to injuries. These players will be back by the start of the season and Baltimore will likely fail to reach the astronomical number of IR candidates that plagued the roster in 2015. You’d be hard pressed to find a player or coach place blame on injuries as it relates to having a poor season. But that’s exactly what happened to the Ravens last year. There’s a good chance that doesn’t happen again.
- Speed on Offense: The Ravens were slow on offense in 2015 — too slow. Breshad Perriman was out for the season with a nagging knee injury. This left Baltimore with an abundance of possession receivers and no speedsters to compliment them. With a quarterback like Joe Flacco under center, that is almost the equivalent of having a Ferrari without wheels. In 2016, speed returns to the Baltimore Ravens. Perriman should be healthy and ready to go. Mike Wallace joined the squad this past offseason and Baltimore drafted Chris Moore in the 4th round of the 2016 NFL Draft. Pick your poison.
- Getting to the Quarterback: We mentioned earlier that Terrell Suggs was one of many IR casualties in 2015. What can’t be overstated is how devastating that was for the defense. Without T-Sizzle, Baltimore was left with only one pure pass rusher on the roster. Elvis Dumervil became an easy target for opposing offenses to deal as he barely put together 6 sacks in 2015. With almost no help to speak of, the Ravens ended up tied for 17th in the NFL in sacks. Couple that with a bad secondary and you’ve got the recipe for not so pleasant Sunday’s in Baltimore.
- Improved Secondary: Speaking of a bad secondary, the Ravens have gone to great lengths to ensure that group improves in 2016. For starters, Lardarius Webb made the transition from cornerback to safety. At this stage of his career, the move is likely in his best interest. It also instantly upgrades the safety position. Baltimore was also able to snag free agent safety Eric Weddle who has routinely been considered one of the best at his position. Jimmy Smith was still recovering from a Lisfranc injury he suffered in 2014 as his production dipped considerably last year. All signs point to a healthy Jimmy Smith in 2016 so fans should expect him to return to form.
- Ravens are younger: If you’re getting injured and you’re slow on the football field, there’s a good chance you’re simply losing the battle against father time. Baltimore had a good number of those type of players on the roster. It makes what the Ravens did on Draft Day all the more impressive. They were able to inject both sides of the ball with some much needed youth. The talent that the young players displayed during their time in college should have Ravens fans very excited. Of course, the transition between college and the pros is far from easy. But if these players pan out, the team will be younger, faster, and better.